Savings Lives By Restricting Teenage Licenses

June 4, 2012

Teen driver.jpgThe Washington Post published an article last week, Graduated Licenses Can Save Lives, Says IIHS. It discusses the process for teenage drivers to receive a license. Here's the data:

  • Teenage driving fatalities are down over the past few years
  • Estimate: with stronger laws, twelve states could cut their fatal teen driving rates by half or more (500 lives saved, 9,500 collisions prevented)

All states and the District of Columbia now use graduated driver licensing (GDL). This means that teens start learning to drive with a supervised learner's permit, then have approval to drive in non-high risk situations after passing a road test, then receive full privileges.
Data from all states were analyzed, and it turns out that the states with the most restrictive GDL laws have the fewest fatalities. Some suggestions include:

  • Precluding younger teens from driving (South Dakota allows learner's permits at age 14)
  • Setting stricter night-driving provisions with earlier driving curfews
  • Setting bans on teen passengers

The article doesn't give much information beyond this--I wonder if the reduction in fatalities is truly because teens are more dangerous and cause more automobile accidents under certain circumstances (younger, night driving, having passengers) than other "aged" drivers, or whether the life-savings is simply a result of fewer driver-hours on the road. After all, if we restricted licenses to 21 year olds, we would see a massive reduction in collisions and fatalities. Even more if we restricted to 31 year olds. Or, if we imposed a nationwide driving curfew of 8:00 p.m. Fewer cars on the roads equals fewer opportunities for collisions.

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